Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Illinois Ranking in United States

Enjoy Illinois?  (Yahoo 24/7 Wall Street Rankings of States)

The latest report by 24/7 Wall Street on the best-and-worst-run states in the Union serves as a reminder of how Illinois historically got to where it currently ranks - #48 out of 50.  Well, at least we’re not last? (The Best and Worst Run States in America).
In their annual report, Yahoo Finance sifted through hundreds of data sets to determine the relative fiscal/economic positions of each of the fifty states, using information on “financial health, standard of living, and government services…”   Qualifiers like those would shake the fiber of anyone in the know in the General Assembly.  Furthermore, Yahoo authors warn that the “successful management of a state is difficult to measure.  Factors that affect its finances and its population may be the results of decisions made years ago.”  Amen!

In its opening, the Yahoo team also identifies a credo which should have been part of the swearing in of governors and legislators for the many years back to 1953.  ”Each state must anticipate economic shifts and diversify its industries and attract new business.  A state should be able to raise enough revenue to ensure the safety of its citizens and minimize hardship without spending more than it can prudently afford.  Some states have historically done this much better than others.” 

Finally, the report also notes, “There is a strong correlation between well-educated populations and generally well-managed states.  Of the ten best scoring states on our lists, nine have among the highest percentage of adults with high school diplomas.”  Currently, Illinois resides at number 32 out of 50 in education according to Education Statistics

It should be disconcerting for anyone living in Illinois to consider that the General Assembly and Governor Quinn have worked in the last two years to severely diminish the benefits and salaries of educators in the state.  Augmenting that, bills before the General Assembly in the Veto Session or lame-duck January Session (or later) would provide significant reason for promising future educators to seriously consider teaching outside of Illinois.  Why work where you pay out more in contribution than you will get in return, face draconian cuts for not toiling until 67, and lose cost-of-living benefits which would stave off inflation?  

And the state winners are: 

The top five states in the United States include North Dakota (with no budget deficit), Wyoming (Unemployment 6.0%/7th lowest), Nebraska (debt per capita $1279/2nd lowest), Utah (only member of winners with flat tax), Iowa (median household income $49,427/24th highest).

The losers include California (lowest bond rating in U.S.), Rhode Island (debt per capita $9018/ 3rd highest), Arizona (budget deficit 39%/3rd largest), New Jersey (Unemployment 9.3/ 14th highest), and (see below) – Illinois.

Debt per capita: $4790 – 11th highest
Budget Deficit: 40.2% (2nd largest)
Unemployment: 9.8% (tied – 10th highest)
Median Household Income: $53,234 (18th highest)
Pct. Below Poverty Line: 15% (25th highest)

“Although many states have budget issues, Illinois’ faces among the biggest problems. In 2010, the state’s budget shortfall was more than 40% of its general fund, the second-highest of any state. Both S&P and Moody’s gave Illinois credit ratings that were the second-worst of all states. In addition, the state only funded 45% of its pension liability in 2010, the lowest percentage of any state. Governor Patrick Quinn has made the now-$85 billion pension gap a top priority for the new legislative session beginning in January. “

After fully funding the pensions for the first time in decades for just two consecutive years (2011, 2012), Governor Quinn and the General Assembly are working feverishly – from metaphorical pythons to coercive choices between health care of COLA’s  - to make retirement something of the past for public service employees.  
Want a good education?  Look for a good educator.

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